Advances in light microscopy, digital image processing, and the development of a variety of powerful fluorescent probes present expanding opportunities for investigating the nervous system, from synaptic spines to networks in the brain. This intensive laboratory and lecture course will provide participants with the theoretical and practical knowledge to utilize emergent imaging technologies. The primary emphasis of the course will be on vital light microscopy. Students will learn the principles of light microscopy, as well as the use of different types of cameras, laser scanning systems, functional fluorophores, delivery techniques, and digital image-processing software. In addition to transmitted light microscopy for viewing cellular structure, the course will examine a variety of molecular probes of cell function, including calcium-sensitive dyes, optogenetic and photo-activatable molecules. Particular weight will be given to multi-photon laser scanning microscopy and to biological fluorophores, especially Green-Fluorescent Protein (GFP) and its variants. We will use a spectrum of neural and cell biological systems, including living animals, brain slices, and cultured cells.
Applicants should have a strong background in the neurosciences or in cell biology. In their personal statements, applicants should specify: 1) their experience with optical techniques, 2) how they will apply optical methods in their current projects, 3) the microscope systems available to them, and 4) their long-term goals in learning more about optical methods.